Alberta-based programs to support mental health

The past year has been a challenging one, and no matter where we live, what we do or who we are, we can all have feelings of anxiousness, loneliness, low mood or depression and exhaustion.
Alberta’s Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are here to help with tough times -- no matter the reason. PCNs support family doctors with a team of health professionals, programs and services, including free health workshops.

The workshops teach people how to develop skills needed to help manage their anxiety, boost their mood, see them though loss and improve overall health and wellbeing. 

“Alberta’s primary care networks of family doctors and health care professionals work to ensure people are getting the right help and PCNs offer a range of workshops across the province,” says Lorna Milkovich, Executive Director, Red Deer Primary Care Network. “The virtual workshops are proving popular because they open up more options for people no matter where or how remote they are.”

Some of the PCN workshops related to mental health include:

  • Anxiety to Calm
  • Health Basics
  • Happiness Basics
  • Relationships in Motion
  • Journey through Grief
  • Moving on with Persistent Pain  

Learn more about the workshops offered in your area. You can also talk to your family doctor about these programs and if they are for you. 

If you don’t have a family doctor, you can search for one by location, sex and languages spoken.

The stories below give the experience of recent participants in anxiety and chronic pain workshops. 

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Learning to savour life 
Evelyn suffered from anxiety and depression for some time but generally had it under control until a family incident last summer. Her family doctor suggested she see a PCN mental health counsellor. After working with the counsellor, she enrolled in the Anxiety to Calm program. 

Evelyn says: “It was amazing. When I did the assessment at the start of the class all my answers rated low and when I did my final assessment, all the answers were amazingly better. I couldn’t believe that had been me just eight weeks before. 

As I went through the program, I thought of how I spent the last years with my mom before she died. I would always say to her I pray for your comfort and joy. Last Christmas I got a card from children I used to babysit and the words comfort and joy were prominent on the card. That prompted me to look for comfort and joy and now I realize it is right in front of me. I get it from a nice walk, touching the trees, a steaming cup of coffee or a hot shower. I have learned to savour all the wonderful everyday things in life. I have a much healthier mindset — I have come so far. 

I thank the counsellor for his patience and for nudging me to the Anxiety program. I would recommend it to everybody!”
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Learning the skills to help himself
Ian took Anxiety to Calm and Happiness Basics for support. 

"I was down on myself and feeling worthless. I had been to my employee assistance program and a psychiatrist but wasn’t feeling any better. My doctor referred me to Anxiety to Calm. However, I was skeptical, I thought it would be a waste of time. I asked myself, why am I here, this won’t help. I was surprised how much it really helped. The instructors were very good, I connected with others with similar issues, made friends, and learned useful tools to decrease my anxiety. I make a habit of using the program tools every day and especially if I feel myself slipping back.

After Anxiety to Calm, I registered for Happiness Basics. It reinforces much of what I learned from anxiety and helps me to think positive. I really look forward to going each week. I look forward to sharing and hearing how others in the group are doing. I still have a lot of work to do but I have the tools and a much better mindset. I highly recommend anyone struggling with anxiety and depression to take these courses. These courses are powerful; they have helped me see my future."
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Living with Persistent (Chronic) pain
Matt, whose battle with persistent pain left him unable to work for nine years and dependent on opioid medication, says the Moving on with Persistent Pain workshop changed his life. He describes it as “amazing, incredible and super helpful.” He uses the skills he learned in the workshop every day, particularly mindful meditation, self-compassion and pacing. 
Inspired by his success in the first workshop, Matt also enrolled in Anxiety to Calm.  The support he gained and comfort of knowing he wasn’t alone significantly improved his outlook and his pain control to the point he felt confident enough to apply for a job and was successful. He highly recommends Moving on with Persistent Pain to anyone struggling with pain. 

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